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 Post Post subject: Devotional: Bless Yourself
Posted: Sat Apr 09, 2011 2:10 pm 
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Steve & Carol Ryerson
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We had been looking for a house in the area where we were relocating. We had looked at several before looking through a house that was outside of the city. Our hearts skipped a beat when we first saw it. Sitting on an acre with beautiful, mature trees clothed in various colors of autumn foliage; it looked too good to be true. We knew it would be a fixer-upper, but our first glance was so exciting! How could it possibly be on the market for such a low price?
As we entered the front door, our hearts sank as we realized that there was major work to be done to get the house in order. Not only that, but this vacant house came complete with junk furniture and just plain junk which would need to be hauled away. The smells of age, trash, and disuse were strong. We silently walked through the house, not wanting to touch any of the filthy contents. There were aspects of the house that shocked us. Our agent, who was also a building contractor, was frankly amazed that it had not been condemned.
Yet, the more we looked, the more we realized the potential the house had ~ if we were willing to use elbow grease, LOTS of elbow grease.
Before we had begun house-hunting, we had made two lists. The first one was our needs; the second was our wants. As we thought about that house over the next few days, we realized that it had all of our needs and almost all of our wants ~ with one catch. It was as if God was saying, “You can have your wants IF you are willing to work for them.”
We had wanted so much to have a fireplace. This house had a metal, wall-insert fireplace unit. It was sitting in the corner of a room as though it were a woodburning stove. A hole had been drilled through the ceiling into the second floor for the chimney pipe. But the pipe stopped,...stopped, open, in the middle of the second floor. Fortunately, the fireplace had never been used. But there it was, waiting for us to properly install it in an outside wall.
Yes, this house had a lot of potential, with a capital P. It also required work, with a capital W. After praying, we decided this was God’s house for us and we threw ourselves into making it into a home.
Jeremiah 4:1-2 ~ “Isra’el, if you will return,” says ADONAI, “yes return to me; and if you will banish your abominations from my presence without wandering astray again; and if you will swear, ‘As ADONAI lives,’ in truth, justice and righteousness; then the nations will bless themselves by him, and in him will they glory.” (CJB)

My eyes were riveted to a particular phrase in the above passage: “then the nations will bless themselves by him.” Have you ever thought about nations, or people, blessing themselves? We thought God blessed us. How do we bless ourselves?
As I pondered this passage, I finally saw the obvious truth: God cannot bless us if we are disobedient. He was telling Israel that IF they would return to him and obey, THEN He could bless them. In essence, by their obedience, they were bringing blessings on themselves.

I John 3:22 ~ And whatsoever we ask, we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.

Here it is again. How do we receive what we ask of God? By obedience.
On a number of occasions, we have seen presentations in which the puppet people go through all kinds of motions to make a lively program. It is fascinating, though, to see behind the curtains. Out of view of the stage are people who are controlling those puppets with strings. The wood, cloth, and plastic figures cannot act on their own. They can only move as the person holding the strings commands.
Sometimes people act as though they are puppets with God holding the strings. They want to ask God for their every desire, expecting Him to pull the proper string to make those desires come to pass. They want living for God to be that simple.
But God has ordained that we must do some things to obtain those blessings. In the matter of our house, God gave us our wants ~ IF we wanted to work for them. In doing the work which God gave us, we blessed ourselves.
Do you want to bless yourself?
We have known a lot of people who talk about how they want to have a closer walk with God. They know they need a daily, vibrant relationship with Him. That’s what they say they want. Yet, year after year, their prayer request remains the same. They don’t seem to get closer to Him. What’s the problem? They find time for hobbies and activities that they enjoy, then, oops, it’s time to go to bed. Another day has passed without time spent with God. Then another day. And another. Have you known people like this? Are you one of them?
These people falsely divide their lives into God-part and my-part. They want to control the strings in their part, and they want God to control the strings in His part. But God did not create people to be puppets, so He is not going to pull strings. He is not going to force them to turn off the computer every night, or zap away whatever it is they are doing and say, “Spend time with Me!” No! We are not puppets. We need to determine that we want to spend time with Him enough to lay aside our worldly interests and come aside with Him.
Now let me clarify, I am not talking about salvation by works. I am talking about allowing God’s Spirit, living in us, to convict and help us to obey. But WE must take the action.
Let’s look at an example: In Acts 3, Peter and John were walking to the temple for a prayer meeting when a lame man who was at the gate begging caught their attention. They did not have money to give, but neither did they ignore him, figuring they couldn’t be late for prayer. They were being sensitive to what God wanted to do through them.

Acts 3:6-8 ~ Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up; and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.

Peter commanded the lame man to get up. Yet, he reached out, took the man by the right hand, and lifted him up. Immediately after Peter took action, the man was healed. His action combined with faith produced the results.
What are some areas of your life that are lagging? Do you want God to bless you and help you in those areas? Ask Him to show you what He wants you to be doing, and then take action. He will bless you and thus by your obedience, you will be blessing yourself.

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